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Chris Ilitch on LCA: 'It's going to be special'

By Al Willman
Special to The Detroit News
Chris Ilitch

Chris Ilitch, president of Ilitch Holdings, Inc. and owner of the Tigers and Red Wings, spoke on Fox Sports Detroit during the third inning of Friday night's game against the White Sox.

He mentioned the ongoing construction of the Little Caesars Arena, as well as the Gordie Howe International Bridge, which is slated to begin construction during the summer of 2018.

"It's an exciting time in the city," Ilitch said. "The comeback of the city is something that's important for our city and our region."

Ilitch said there's a lot about the future home of the Red Wings and Pistons he thinks fans will enjoy.

"There's going to be offices, and places to live and all types of restaurants and bars and stores in proximity," he said. "It's going to be a very nice place to be. It's going to be special, I think."

Paul: Little Caesars Arena off to a roaring start

As far as the bridge named for the Red Wings icon who died last summer, Ilitch said it will do something his late father wanted for a long time.

"When the I-75 freeway went through, it cut through the heart of the city," Ilitch said. "This project is about bringing two parts of the city together.

"My dad used to always say that he and the city are one. He looked at Detroit like a family member. What we're trying to do is work toward his longtime objective of seeing a bustling city again.

"He had a profound love for the city. We're really looking to fulfill that longtime vision. The details make the difference. We take it seriously. We want to make sure it's special.

"We want the economic impact to be felt throughout the city, throughout the state."

Ilitch said 60 percent, or  $375 million, of the cost to build LCA is going to companies and contractors within the city of Detroit. In total, $675 million  or 94 percent  is going to those in Michigan.

"We're thrilled to have that amount of business going to Detroiters," he said.

A significant amount of work, Ilitch said, is going to apprentices.

"These are folks who came in (and) didn't have a skilled trade," he said. "They're building a skill and they're going to walk off this job site and have a skill that is going to allow them to put food on the table."

Al Willman is a freelance writer